Gumbo, by definition, is a dish that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It typically consists primarily of a strongly flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and seasoning vegetables, which can include celery, bell peppers and onions (a trio known in Cajun cuisine as the “trinity” Add garlic to make it the “holy trinity”).
GUMBO is a tradition that needs to be adhered to come hell or high water, so when I’m not lucky enough to have someone make it for me, or save me a bowl, I just get it in myself and get to cooking it for me. Now, if you are familiar with gumbo, you are probably familiar that gumbo variations vary widely depending up who makes it and how much time
and money they want to put into it. I only make it a couple of times a year, so I go in hard.
For a gumbo recipe, I will throw up this one by EMERIL, because its closest to the recipe that I grew up on. I grew up on my grandmothers recipe and I also had some friends that I grew up with who were creole and every year when it was gumbo season, I found myself at their crib trying to get on some. So, there are two styles of gumbo that I am used to, and they are pretty much the only kind I fun with. Everyone else will give me a good effort, but I have yet to find anyone who is close to these two (not named me that is.)
Here is my disclaimer:
I’m not a chef, I’m not even a cook… I’m just a dude with shit in my fridge who likes to put things together…. thats all.
I dont measure shit. I will add in something just because. I will pour a little beer in something if I happen to be drinking one. I’m just out’chea winging it.
I will say though, the shit I make turns out really, really good.
Emeril’s recipe calls for chicken and sausage, but what my grandmother used to make had crab and scrimps in it, so I add those to any that I make. Here is pretty much most of what you need as far as veggies and proteins:
The shellfish you will just keep in the fridge because you won’t need that for a couple of hours. To be honest, the cooking time on some gumbo is about 4 hours start to finish, but the reality is that its only about 45 minutes of work and the rest of the time you are just letting that thang cook and get right. Its a stew, the flavors need time to get together.
Smoked (spicy) sausage
Chopped bell peppers
3 bay leaves
Chicken (vegetable) stock or broth
* I don’t use file powder
* I add in scrimps and crab legs
As far as the way that I cook it, I should let you know that I don’t really follow a recipe even though I gave you the Emeril joint for reference. I used his recipe plus what I remember from my grandmothers the first time I made it, the second time I made it there were a few adjustments and now I just bring it from memory..
* For the record, my grandmother is from Kentucky and my grandfather from Shreveport, so I feel ok with winging it…
First brown your sausage and then brown your chicken in the sausage fat. Put both to the side after because you will add them back in later.
Its roux time, here is where you will spend most of your time. Its one part flour one part vegetable oil… the measurements depend upon how much you make, but when I do my cast iron kettle I actually just use like 1/3 cup of each… it look like a lot more but the kettle is shallow and there is some residual oil from cooking off the sausage and chicken.
As far as the roux goes, the longer you cook it, the deeper in color it gets and the deeper flavor profile you get. Some say that you should go for a chocolate color, but that takes about 45 minutes or so and aint nobody got time for that. I usually cook it at a medium to low heat for about 25 to 35 minutes stirring constantly so that it doesn’t burn. You want to stay on this one, so its good to just get some music going and realize that you will be at the pot for that long.
After you get your roux how you want it, you add in the chopped vegetables and cook them until they are like this or so.
After cooking down the vegetables, I like to throw the sausage and the chicken right back in the mix and then start to fill it up with the stock.
Give it a good stir, throw in your seasonings and bay leaves. Don’t be shy on the seasoning but be mindful of the salt. You will get a lot of grease/oil rising to the top because of the sausage and the roux, so from time to time you are going to want to skim that off and get rid of it. We don’t need that sticking to our arteries.
you are going to bring this to a boil, then just let it simmer on low for about 2 hours stirring every 25 to 30 minutes.
After you get it tasting like gumbo, I say that now its time to get your crawlers ready for their time in the bath… I personally like to let the heat from the pot cook them, because any other way overcooks the scrimps.
My move, take it off the fire, add the scrimp and crab, stir it around once or twice and then put the top on it and cook your rice (or mashed potatoes)
At this point, you are almost ready to get down….
Pour a beer, get your tabasco out, find a big ass bowl and then serve yourself up some gumbo and rice. Shit is that simple. Total time from taking shit out of the fridge until sitting down to eat is about 4 hours so you are going to have to plan it out. Make sure you add time to vacuum shit up, time to take a shower and about a 30 to 45 minute nap for after you are done eating…..
* By the way, this is a smarter eating website, but its the holidays and this is gumbo, so you are going to have to bear with me on this one…. and actually other than the sausage, the gumbo is a relatively good meal. A the end of the day, its just a stew. The only problem is portion control because you can mess around and eat about 2 or 3 bowls of this if you aren’t careful. The best part, for me, is that there is plenty left over!
* My next trick, will be to make some gumbo with my cousins recipe that is vegetarian…. uses mushrooms and shit to replace the sausage and chicken and stuff. I’m a little bit skeptical already, but we’ll see.